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Coronavirus: Here’s what’s happening in the sports world on Friday

The latest on how the coronavirus outbreak is affecting sports around the globe:

  • ATP Tour suspension extended to July 31
  • World Rugby postpones July test matches
  • Aussie rules football set to return in June
  • Belgian Grand Prix gets go ahead without spectators

ATP Tour suspension extended

The suspension of the ATP Tour due to the COVID-19 pandemic has been further extended until July 31, the ATP announced on Friday.
ATP events in Hamburg, Bastad, Newport, Los Cabos, Gstaad, Umag, Atlanta and Kitzbuhel will not go ahead as scheduled.

“Due to continued uncertainties surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic, we regret to announce our decision to extend the suspension of the Tour,” ATP Chairman Andrea Gaudenzi said in a statement.

World Rugby reschedules mid-year test window

World Rugby has postponed July test matches involving southern and northern hemisphere nations because of ongoing restrictions on international travel during the coronavirus pandemic.

The sport’s international governing body issued a statement Friday saying the mid-year test window will be rescheduled when cross-border travel and quarantine regulations are relaxed.

The decision means Canada will not host Italy in Winnipeg on July 11. A July 4 match against the French Barbarians in Montreal was called off in April.

New Zealand had been scheduled to play Wales and Scotland, Australia was set to play Ireland and Fiji and Rugby World Cup champion South Africa had planned to host Scotland and Georgia. Japan was set to play a test against Wales and two against England in its first internationals since hosting the World Cup last year. World Rugby said the decision to shutter the July international window was made because of “ongoing government and health agency COVID-19 directives.”

The Super Rugby season was suspended in March, but participating countries are planning domestic tournaments to off-set the lost provincial games. New Zealand’s Super Rugby teams will play a 10-week competition starting next month, and Australia’s Super Rugby clubs are aiming for a July re-start.

Canada is due to start play in the Americas Rugby Championship in August.

AFL set to kick off again

Aussie rules football will kick off again on June 11, with the second round of the Australian Football League to be played almost three months after the competition was suspended because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Australian Football League chief executive Gillon McLachlan on Friday announced the matches for the next four rounds of the condensed season would be released within 10 days. The AFL, Australia’s most-watched sports league in terms of attendance and TV audience, was suspended on March 22 after one round.

Quarantine requirements and travel restrictions from some states means players and staff from the four AFL clubs from Western Australia and South Australia — the West Coast Eagles, Fremantle Dockers, Adelaide Crows and Port Adelaide — will be temporarily be relocated to hubs on the Gold Coast, an hour south of Brisbane.

Belgian Grand Prix to be held without fans

The Belgian Grand Prix can go ahead at its original August date, but with no fans, local authorities in the Walloon region said Friday.

After Belgium last month banned all mass events in the country until August 31 because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Formula One race scheduled for Aug. 28-30 at the Spa-Francorchamps track was under threat and organizers suspended ticket sales.

The announcement came two days after the Belgian government allowed outdoor training at sporting facilities to resume under a coach’s supervision from next week. Di Rupo said the track will reopen for professional practice on May 18.

Formula One is planning to finally start its 2020 season with a doubleheader over two weekends in the naturally isolated environment around the venue for the Austrian Grand Prix. Despite the first 10 races having been cancelled or postponed because of the coronavirus crisis, the targeted start date is July 5 in Austria. F1 still envisions holding 15 to 18 of the 22 scheduled races.

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